Guilty pleasures

Lönnrotinkatu 12

I have always secretly been fond of this building. The feeling is the same kind of nostalgia as remembering driving up and down on the round glass elevator in the newly opened Espoontori shopping mall in 1987. A mixture of future optimism and aesthetic pleasure mingled with guilt and slight disgust.

I also have to admit that I know very little about this building. Designed in 1990 by Tapani Leppälä, built in 1992, never quite had the attention it is asking for. Its most striking feature is the facade in polished granite and mirror glass, probably one of its kind in Helsinki. It houses mostly small apartments but there is one special apartment on the top floor along with a sauna department that lives up to the promise of the exterior architecture:

sauna department

All those 45 degree angles make you feel like asking for a little more cheap champagne in that octagonal  hot tub.

The courtyard facade

It was almost a shock to see what the courtyard facade looks like. It seems they used all the money on that polished stone and there was nothing left for the other facades. It looks like white concrete but twenty years of rain and snow have left their marks and turned it into streaky grey. After the strange postmodern glamour of the street side this could be described as following the honest finnish tradition of modernism.

The top floor apartment has interesting built-in closets and a terrace accessible from the bathroom.

What I like about this building in spite of its clumsiness (it was probably considered clumsy and ugly by the architecture scene already when built) is the unmistakable personality it possesses. I can imagine the designer earnestly thinking about what kind of people would live in the apartments he was drafting. This house really promises that its inhabitants wear  gel in their hair and still use their Mobira Citymans.

That promise of fashionable city life must have seemed ridiculous only a few years after the building was finished. Now that promise makes me like the building. Especially after I found this heartfelt drawing in the city archive:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s